Richard G. Petty, MD

Aerobic Exercise, Diet and Abdominal Fat

Most of us are probably aware of the difference between fat inside the abdomen – “intra-abdominal,” also called visceral fat – and fat on the hips or the outside of the abdomen. The fat inside the abdomen is associated with insulin resistance, diabetes and at least a dozen other medical problems. This fat is also covered in cortisol receptors and breaks down and reforms extremely rapidly. By contrast the fat on the outside of the body has relatively few metabolic consequences until the amount of it becomes extreme.

Excess fat in general is not a good idea, but it is the intra-abdominal fat that is the best target for treatment.

New research has shown that the addition of aerobic exercise to a standard dietary weight loss program can preferentially reduce abdominal fat in overweight people.

The investigators did a twenty week prospective study in which looked at 45 obese women with an average age of 58 years. During the study the participants bought their own breakfast in consultation with a dietitian, but had their lunch and dinner prepared by the kitchen staff of the hospital. They were either told to continue with their normal routine of daily activities, or to do low-intensity or high-intensity aerobic exercise. The investigators not only did all the standard measurement on their volunteers, they also did fat biopsies and measured the size of the fat cells.

They all lost weight, but in the people who did the high-intensity aerobic exercise, they also had a reduction in the size of the fat cells in subcutaneous tissue taken from the abdomen.

This is interesting, but it’s necessary to sound a note of caution about the experiment: the investigators were measuring subcutaneous fat cells rather than the all important intra-abdominal fat cells. The trouble with measuring those is simply getting at them. It is not easy trying to get fat out of the abdomen without some invasive procedures.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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